Photo: Portrait of Dido Elizabeth Belle (left) and her cousin, Lady Elizabeth Murray (right).
Black History Month is celebrated annually in October
To promote and celebrate Black history, we've created a list of blogs, videos, books, podcasts, resources, and events that we hope will get you thinking, help you learn more, and start conversations.
Almost all of the items listed below are freely available online or from Warwick’s library (where this is not the case, this has been indicated).
Even when it's no longer Black History Month, it’s important to remember that Black history shouldn’t just be celebrated for only one month of the year, which is why we have this information available all year round.
Please find below all of the content we have collated, so you can read/watch/listen to the materials in October and beyond.
Social activist, commentator, and former Labour Councillor Patrick Vernon OBE describes how October came to be Black History Month in the UK, and how it differs from the month in America (which is celebrated in February).
“Sometimes the nation’s art can seem overwhelmingly white – both in subject and artist. Here at Art UK we want to share with you some of our favourite Black and British artists from the nation’s art collection”.
As an added bonus, all but one of the books discussed in this article are available in the library.
“Olive Morris was a community activist in South London in the 1970s, who died of cancer aged 27 in 1979. Through her activities organising the Black community and feminist activism, she left behind an extraordinary legacy of local activism”. Also have a look at the 2006, Remembering Olive CollectiveLink opens in a new window for more information about her life and interviews with people who knew her.
A range of blogs on pre-colonial Black history.
Acknowledging and celebrating the thousands of historic contributions that Black LGBTQ individuals have made throughout history, paving the way not only for LGBTQ PoC but the LGBT community overall.
The department of Physics is proud of its commitment to diversity, and as part of Black History Month a description of some inspirational Black Physicists can be found on this page.
Black History month originated to recognise contributions and achievements of those of African and Caribbean heritage. The month also serves as a reminder that these stories are often missing from the curriculum and our teaching of British history. The Colonial Hangover project is creating a space for students to explore different histories, particularly the stories of the colonised.
Summary by Eseosa Akojie, Final Year History and Politics Student and Undergraduate Research Assistant a 'Now and Then' seminar about colonialism and commemoration.
In this TedTalk, Don John talks about his life working to identify, address and confront racism, to explore why Black history matters.
Love letters to black resilience and triumph in London's West Indian community, directed by Oscar winner Steve McQueen. Vivid stories of hard-won victories in the face of racism.
Novelist Chimamanda Adichie talks about the misconceptions and misunderstandings that arise when only one version of someone’s story is told, drawing on her own experiences of hearing one version of poverty, how people viewed her when they had heard only one story of Africa, and “how she found her authentic cultural voice”. For more great TED Talks see Talks To Celebrate Black History Month.
This 1-hour documentary reveals how black children in the 1960s and 70s were disproportionately sent to schools for the so-called ‘educationally subnormal’ and tells the story of how Black parents, teachers, and activists worked to expose the injustice and force the education system to change.
“In this vital re-examination of a shared history, historian and broadcaster David Olusoga tells the rich and revealing story of the long relationship between the British Isles and the people of Africa and the Caribbean”. A documentary series of 'Black and British: A Forgotten History' was also created for the BBC.
"A black porter publicly whips a white Englishman in the hall of a Gloucestershire manor house. A Moroccan woman is baptised in a London church. Henry VIII dispatches a Mauritanian diver to salvage lost treasures from the Mary Rose. From long-forgotten records emerge the remarkable stories of Africans who lived free in Tudor England. They were present at some of the defining moments of the age. They were christened, married and buried by the Church. They were paid wages like any other Tudors. The untold stories of the Black Tudors, dazzlingly brought to life by Kaufmann, will transform how we see this most intriguing period of history".
“Both devastating and funny, The Lonely Londoners is an unforgettable account of immigrant experience - and one of the great twentieth-century London novels”. This edition includes an introduction by Professor of Modern Literature at the Open University, Susheila Nasta.
This book “begins to map the field of Black Studies scholarship from a British context, by collating new and established voices from scholars writing about Blackness in Britain. Split into five parts, it examines: Black studies and the challenge of the Black British intellectual; Revolution, resistance and state violence; Blackness and belonging; Exclusion and inequality in education; Experiences of Black women and the gendering of Blackness in Britain”.
“The child of a field slave on the Amity sugar plantation in Jamaica, July lives with her mother until Mrs. Caroline Mortimer, a recently transplanted English widow, decides to move her into the great house and rename her "Marguerite." Together they live through the bloody Baptist War and the violent and chaotic end of slavery. An extraordinarily powerful story”. The BBC recently announced that they will be making a three-part adaptation of the book, at present dates haven’t been announced for when the series will air so keep an eye out for it later this year/early next year. If you want to read Andrea’s other books Every Light in the House Burnin', Never far From Nowhere, Fruit of the Lemon, and Small Island are all available from the Library.
“This is the first volume in a monumental ten-volume survey of thirty thousand archival documents and original manuscripts from widely separated sources, brought together by editor Robert A. Hill to provide a compelling picture of the evolution, spread, and influence of the UNIA. Letters, pamphlets, vital records, intelligence reports, newspaper articles, speeches, legal records, and diplomatic dispatches are enhanced by Hill's descriptive source notes, explanatory footnotes, and comprehensive introduction. And if you want more on Marcus Garvey, have a look at Robert A. Hill and Barbara Bair Eds (1987) Marcus Garvey: Life and Lessons: A Centennial Companion to the Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Movement Association Papers “A collection of autobiographical and philosophical works produced by Garvey in the period from his imprisonment in Atlanta to his death in London in 1940”.
Ask anyone moderately interested to name a Black intellectual and chances are the response will be American: Malcolm X, Audre Lourde or Cornel West. Yet Britain has its own Black intellectual traditions and its own master teachers, among them C.L.R. James, Claudia Jones, John La Rose and Una Marson. However, while in the USA Black public intellectuals are an embedded feature of national life, Black British thinkers remain marginalized. This book explores histories of race, education and social justice through the work of Black British educators, campaigners and academics, and the wider world of Black British politics, from the 18th century to the present.
“Terrible, unspeakable things happened to Sethe at Sweet Home, the farm where she lived as a slave for so many years until she escaped to Ohio. Her new life is full of hope but 18 years later she is still not free. Sethe's new home is not only haunted by the memories of her past but also by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless”.
"Olaudah Equiano's 1789 narrative tells the remarkable story of his childhood in Africa, his kidnapping and subsequent years as a slave and seaman, and his eventual road to freedom in the Caribbean and in England". One of the first widely read books about slave narratives, this book is credited as playing a large role in influencing public opinion against the salve trade in Britain. This edition includes explanatory notes, reviews and essays on the narrative, and a map showing Olaudah’s travel.
“In a comprehensive account, Peter Fryer reveals how Africans, Asians and their descendants, previously hidden from history, have profoundly influenced and shaped events in Britain over the course of the last two thousand years”.
"The daughter of a Scottish soldier and a Jamaican herbalist, Mary Seacole (1805–81) gained recognition for her provision of care to British troops during the Crimean War. She had travelled widely in the Caribbean and Panama before venturing to England to volunteer as an army nurse in the Crimea. Although rebuffed by officials, an undeterred Seacole funded her own expedition, establishing the British Hotel near Balaclava to provide a refuge for wounded officers. Known affectionately as 'Mother Seacole' among the men, yet returning to England bankrupt at the end of hostilities, she had her plight highlighted in the press. First published in 1857, and reissued here in its 1858 printing, her autobiography was intended to share her story and restore to her some financial security."
"Mary Prince recalls that in the slave market in Bermuda, where she was put up for sale, the buyers' talk 'fell like cayenne pepper into the fresh wounds of our hearts'. During her life as a slave she was taken from Bermuda to Turks Island and Antigua, eventually arriving in London where, in 1828, she reported the cruelty of her master and mistress to the Anti-Slavery Society. The History of Mary Prince(1831) was the first life of a Black woman to be published in Britain. This extraordinary testament of ill-treatment and survival was a protest and a rallying-cry for emancipation that provoked two libel actions and ran into 3 editions in the year of its publication. This edition includes an introduction which discusses The History within the context of Black writing, explanatory notes, a chronology, and supplementary material on enslavement and the case of Mary Prince."
"Today Bill Richmond is largely unknown to the wider public, but he was one of the most significant sportsmen in history and one of the most prominent celebrities of Georgian times. Born into slavery in Staten Island, Richmond won his freedom as a young boy and carved a new life for himself in England as a cabinet maker and then a renowned prizefighter and trainer. His amazing life encompassed encounters and relationships with some of the most prominent men of the age, including Earl Percy, William Hazlitt, Lord Byron, the Prince Regent and Lord Camelford. His fame was such that he fulfilled an official role at the coronation celebrations of King George IV in 1821.The story of Bill Richmond is an incredible tale of personal advancement, as well as the story of a life informed and influenced by a series of turbulent historical events, including the American War of Independence, the fight for Black emancipation and Britain's long-running conflict with Napoleon Bonaparte".
"Teacher and writer Jeffrey Boakye has encountered endless labels – all of which have informed his experience of being Black and British today. Here, he unpicks their meanings".
"For the teeming populace of Old Mack's cacophonous yard in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, it's a cheek by jowl existence lived out on a sweltering public stage. Snatches of calypso compete with hymn tunes, drums and street cries as neighbours drink, brawl, pass judgment, make love, look out for each other and crave a better life. But Ephraim is no dreamer and nothing, not even the seductive Rosa, is going to stop him escaping his dead-end job for a fresh start in England. Set as returning troops from the Second World War fill the town with their raucous celebrations, Erroll John's 'Moon on a Rainbow Shawl' depicts a vibrant, cosmopolitan world that is as harsh as it is filled with colour and warmth".
"A collection of early, emerging works from some of today's most celebrated African American female writers. When it was first published in 1970, 'The Black Woman' introduced readers to an astonishing new wave of voices that demanded to be heard. In this groundbreaking volume of original essays, poems, and stories, a chorus of outspoken women -- many who would become leaders in their fields: bestselling novelist Alice Walker, poets Audre Lorde and Nikki Giovanni, writer Paule Marshall, activist Grace Lee Boggs, and musician Abbey Lincoln among them -- tackled issues surrounding race and sex, body image, the economy, politics, labor, and much more. Their words still resonate with truth, relevance, and insight today."
"This is the story of a young woman born in Chicago who came to New York, won fame with her play, 'A Raisin in the Sun', and went on to new heights of artistry before her tragic death. In turns angry, loving, bitter, laughing, and defiantly proud, the story, voice, and message are all Lorraine Hansberry's own, coming together in one of the major works of the Black experience in mid-century America".
The following books are well worth a read, but unfortunately aren’t available in our library:
“In Left of Karl Marx, Carole Boyce Davies assesses the activism, writing, and legacy of Claudia Jones (1915–1964), a pioneering Afro-Caribbean radical intellectual, dedicated communist, and feminist. Jones is buried in London’s Highgate Cemetery, to the left of Karl Marx—a location that Boyce Davies finds fitting given how Jones expanded Marxism-Leninism to incorporate gender and race in her political critique and activism”. If you’d like to read more about Claudia Jones there are two books about her available in the library – Claudia Jones: Beyond Containment: Autobiographical Reflections, Essays, And Poems, and I Think Of My Mother: Notes On The Life And Times Of Claudia Jones.
The story of Liverpool's first Black football player, Howard Gayle, will be available from October 2019.
"Joint winner of the Booker Prize 2019, 'Girl, Woman, Other' is teeming with life and crackling with energy. Told through many distinctive voices, this novel follows the lives of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, Black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years. Joyfully polyphonic and sparklingly contemporary, Girl, Woman, Other is a gloriously new kind of history, a novel of our times: celebratory, ever-dynamic and utterly irresistible".
"Greg Jenner is joined by Dr Meleisa Ono-George and comedian Nathan Caton to learn all about the roots of Notting Hill Carnival, the largest street festival in Europe. We follow the history from 18th century Trinidad to 21st century London, looking not just at how carnival traditions have changed and developed into a world famous annual celebration but how they helped empower a generation to stand together against the racial injustice they faced in the UK".
“Lenny Henry presents a series of programmes tracing a century of Black British theatre and screen”.
One From the Vaults is a podcast covering the trans history of North America and Europe. This episode focuses on the life of Sir Lady Java, a trans rights activist and performer who “fought back against anti-cross dressing laws which curtailed the life’s of so many trans people across the United States in the twentieth century”. For more on Sir Lady Java see Monica Roberts, TransGriot (December 2010) Sir Lady Java- Trans Civil Rights Warrior.
“Featuring key voices from the last few decades of anti-racist activism, About Race with Reni Eddo-Lodge looks at the recent history that lead to the politics of today” – to get a flavour of the podcast listen to a trailer on the podcast’s website here. The podcast covers topics including race in the 1990s, political Blackness and ‘the big question’ (what white people can do to support race equality). The series is based on the bestselling book – Reni Eddo-Lodge (2017) Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race “a timely and essential new framework for how to see, acknowledge and counter racism”, including an excellent opening chapter on the history of race and racism in the UK.
Sociologist, cultural theorist, political activist, and former director of the Birmingham Centre for Cultural Studies, Stuart Hall, appears on this episode of Thinking Allowed (a BBC Radio 4 programme examining new research in the social sciences) talking about multiculturalism.
This summer (2019), staff in the Law School offered suggestions of books that influenced their thinking on race, especially with regard to the law. To make it a bit trickier, they were asked not to suggest academic books. Their selections were a much more eclectic mix of books, podcasts and even music than expected, and you can find the full list on the School of Law's webpages, including a short paragraph alongside each recommendation about why they chose it. During October 2019, you will be able to browse or borrow any of these books from the Law Student Hub.
The Colonial Hangover project starts from the simple proposition that the current strategic silence on the impact of the British Empire within the National Curriculum in England, Wales and Northern Ireland cuts off school-age students from many stories of interest about their country, their community and even themselves.
The Colonial Hangover project works with students to pose a series of questions about everyday life that currently remain underrepresented in both public political discourse and the school curriculum.
To honour Black History Month, throughout October Fawcett will be celebrating the work of some incredible Black women in the UK. From politicians to activists to women working on the front line of Coronavirus, these women are doing amazing things in 2020. Watch the videos to learn more about the work of these women, their proudest achievements and their journeys.
The pivotal role of Black LGBT people in Western LGBT history is documented but often forgotten. From Marsha P. Johnson and Stormé DeLarverie who were major figures in the Stonewall uprisings of 1969, to modern day LGBT leaders like Munroe Bergdorf and Lady Phyll, Black people have always paved the way for LGBT liberation. But Black LGBT people have also always existed outside of the Western context. Africa's rich history of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities is rarely taught or discussed in schools. This webpage provides some resources that discuss the experiences of Black LGBT people as well as other LGBT people of colour.
Celebrating some historical figures who you may or not be aware of as well as stories from BDF's membership and beyond around race and disability.
As part of Black History Month the Centre for Ageing Better have collated stories from a number of Black Britons to give them a platform to share their stories about race, inequality, age, and gender.
This website presents the often untold stories of the generations of migrants who came to and shaped the British Isles.
See also specific pages on Sporting Heroes blackhistorymonth.org.uk/section/sporting-heroes and The Black Heroes of Science blackhistorymonth.org.uk/article/section/science-and-medicine/black-heroes-science.
In 2003, the ‘100 Great Black Britons’ campaign was launched, with nurse and entrepreneur Mary Seacole being voted number one. You can read biographies of Mary Seacole and the other 99 Great Black Britons on the 100 Great Black Britons website. In 2017, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Black History Month, 100 Great Black Britons was relaunched by Patrick Vernon, who said “We hope that once more, 100 Great Black Britons will provide role models to Black communities, and also emphasise that the history and achievements of Black Britons are an integral part of our shared heritage in this country” (results will be announced today, 1 October 2018).
This webpage hosts a range of blogs on historic ‘firsts’, like Bishop Wilfred Wood, the Church of England’s first Black Bishop; Diane Abbott, the first Black woman to be elected to the House of Commons; Sislin Fay Allen, Britain’s First Black Policewoman, and Frank Bailey, London’s First Black Firefighter.
“Black Cultural Archives is the only national heritage centre dedicated to collecting, preserving and celebrating the histories of African and Caribbean people in Britain”.
The V&A holds a variety of material relating to black heritage and culture, including fashion, photography and performance.
The Young Historians Project hopes to encourage the development of young historians of African and Caribbean Heritage and enable people to engage with Black British history, through the creation of digital learning resources and workshops aimed at young people. Have a look at this video about how and why the Young Historians Project was created.
Support for Black physicists can be found through Blackett Lab Family, a collective of UK based Black physicists: diversifying perceptions of physics and promoting Black representation at all levels in the field. Follow them on Twitter @Blackettlabfam.
This timeline is the first of a series produced by UCU in close collaboration with the Black Members’ Standing Committee.
Smaller portraits of important individuals in black history will be made available in the next 12 months, thereby helping to shift from Black History Month to Black History 365.
Black people have played a pivotal role in human history. A history that especially in the last four centuries has been repressed and marginalised, but now can no longer be ignored.
The University recognises the power of staff networks. The BAME network aims to provide a space for discussion of issues relevant to its members and to contribute to University initiatives on Equality, Diversity & Inclusion.
There are a number of modules at Warwick which may be of interest – you could consider using your Warwick Learning Vouchers to study these modules, or request to audit them (meaning attending classes, but not taking part in assessments). If you’re interested in studying any of these modules in either of the ways described above, please contact the department and module leader first.
- Race and the Making of the Modern World (SO122).
- Race, Ethnicity, and Migration in Modern Britain (HI2D4) (please note it is not possible to audit History modules, but you could still consider using your WLVs to study this module next year).
- Racism and Xenophobia (SO337).
Belgrade Theatre - Black Futures Exhibition: Motherland (9-14 October 2022).
Ayesha Jones documents a journey to Africa with her mother in a physical and virtual exhibition as part of our Black Futures programme.
Department of History - Black History Month Discussion and Pizza (12 October 2022, 1-2pm, Social Learning Space FAB Floor 3).
Meet other students and members of staff interested in researching themes related to Black History at this relaxed lunchtime event. Pizza will be served.
Residential Community - Watch and Learn: Black History Month.
Join together and watch international short films on topical and important issues of the day. Film followed by discussion and there might even be popcorn!
- Westwood: Friday 14 October, 7-9.30pm, Westwood Campus - Arden.
- Claycroft: Sunday 16 October, 7-9.30pm, Residential Community Hub - Red Square.
Warwick SU - Decolonisation is Not a Metaphor (17 October 2022, 4.30-6pm, S0.10 Social Sciences).
What actually is decolonisation? What can we decolonise, what can we not decolonise? How can we move beyond the buzzwords and the black squares? This will be an open discussion on the limits of rhetoric around "decolonisation" and the performative nature of institutional and corporate anti-racism efforts, particularly in the last few years.
'Race, Law and the Academy' with Dr Eddie Bruce-Jones - Birkbeck, University of London.
This lecture examines conceptual, practical and political dimensions of research on race in the legal academy. Bruce-Jones will draw on his own work and experience, as well as the work of other Black scholars, around the legal concept of race in Europe, historical studies of British colonialism and interdisciplinary examinations of race at the intersection of law and the humanities. The lecture will address central questions including: What is critical race theory and why is it such a big deal? How do legacies of colonialism impact the conditions of research? And how might we think about the ethical and intellectual demands of race-related research?
Department of History - Black History Month Talk Wednesday (19 October 2022, 1-2pm).
Come and hear about Hannah Dennet's experience curating the exhibition, 'Tiny Traces: African and Asian Lives at London's Foundling Hospital' which is currently on at the Foundling Hospital.
Hannah is a PhD Candidate in the Department of History at Warwick and the exhibition is part of her project, 'Forgotten Foundlings: Black lives and the eighteenth-century Foundling Hospital.'
Warwick SU - Showcasing Warwick Black Creatives with black [untitled]: Film (19 October 2022, 6-9pm, L3-Science Concourse).
In collaboration with Warwick Student Cinema, black [untitled] and Warwick SU host a film exhibition, showcasing Warwick Black creatives work in the visual media field. A free event including free popcorn.
Warwick SU - "The Criminalisation of Black culture and the importance of Black politics" (21 October 2022, 6-8pm, S0.21 Social Sciences Building).
A talk by Dr. Adam Elliot-Cooper, lecturer at QMUL, on the criminalisation of Black culture, tracing the history of the policing of Black culture, from Notting Hill Carnival through to Drill Music, and the importance of Black politics in resisting this criminalisation.
Belgrade Theatre - COBO Comedy Shutdown: Black History Month Special (22 October 2022, 6.30pm).
Acts on the night:
- Kane Brown (BBC, 1Xtra, Amazon Prime).
- Trixx (Stand-up comedian & Web star from Toronto).
- Marlon Davis (BBC Live At The Apollo, Comedy Central).
- Special Guest (Joining COBO For Limited Shows).
#BlackinPhysics Week (24-28 October 2022, online).
#BlackinPhysics is a week dedicated to celebrating Black physicists. For 2022, it will be celebrated from 24th-28th October. The group has a feed on Twitter @BlackinPhysics. Read an interview with some of the organizers of #BlackinPhysics week published in Physics World.
Warwick SU - Rethinking the (Black) Student Subject in Neoliberal Times (26 October 2022, 4-6pm, OC1.04 Oculus).
This talk by Khadijah Diskin, PhD student at Manchester Metropolitan University, will explore what it means to be a Black student today, using her research to unpack how race affects how Black students perceive their position and "subjectivity" within and beyond the University in an era of marketisation and neoliberalism.
Belgrade Theatre - Podcast: The Future is Bright (27 October 2022).
Corey Campbell reflects on the future of diversity in the arts industry and more.
Warwick SU - Writing & Poetry Workshop and Open Mic Night with black [untitled] (27 October 2022, 6-9pm, Kevin Gately and Curiositea).
Join black [untitled] and Warwick SU for an interactive creative writing and poetry workshop in Kevin Gately followed by an open mic night in Curiositea.
Warwick SU - Mental health among the Black student community: A discussion hosted by Oge Obioha co-founder of Minds of People of Colour (28 October 2022, 3-5pm, FAB0.23 Faculty of Arts Building).
This session explores Black identity at University, vulnerability, the strong Black woman trope, as well as how to support your Black friends and peers. The aim is to empower students with the tools to recognise and identify Black trauma, and healthy ways to navigate this through the violence presented during your years in Higher Education.
Postdoctoral Society of Chemistry - Departmental Seminar Celebrating Warwick Chemistry in Black History Month (29 October 2022, 2pm, online).
Join some of our fantastic researchers to celebrate the contribution of the Black community to chemistry at Warwick and hear about the exciting initiatives we have coming up in the near future.
Warwick SU - Showcasing Warwick Black Creatives with black [untitled]: Music (3 November 2022, 6-9pm, The Copper Rooms).
A music event by black [untitled] and Warwick SU celebrating Black student creatives at Warwick to close the month long Blackness, Imagination, Liberation series.